There are several things parents should do before school
officially ends for the summer.
If your child comes home with a final report card indicating
that he has failed something or is deficient in some way, now is
the time to go to school, preferably with the child, to determine
what action can be taken so his work will improve next year. It
is not enough for a school to indicate failure without indicating
that it has some plan for next year to help the child to succeed.
At a meeting, you, your child and the teacher should look at
his past work and his test scores in order to determine where he
is deficient. If your child has low scores in reading and math
on school-wide standardized achievement tests, you might ask that
he be given a diagnostic test to further pinpoint the difficulty.
The number of questions on the standardized achievement tests are
too few to really identify the problem.
If the decision is made that tutoring would be helpful, it
is best to do this toward the end of the summer, just before
school opens again. Do not get just any tutor. Look for a
capable, experienced tutor and ask for references. The school
might have recommendations. Sometimes there is an excellent
teacher on the staff who does tutoring in the summer or a retired
teacher for year-round help. Often a child’s underlying problem
is deficiency in reading and his other problems may just be
symptoms of this. With the school’s help, find out if this is
the case and choose the tutor accordingly. It is important that
the tutor works well with your child and that your child does not
view it as punishment. Otherwise, he will never learn. When you
engage a tutor, you should know what she hopes to accomplish and
If your child is going from elementary to middle school or
middle school to high school, now is the time to look at his
cumulative record folder. You want to know what records and
comments are going to follow him. If you disagree with the
comments, ask that they be deleted. Most comments tell you more
about the writer than the child. If you feel the record is very
negative, you might want to add some of your child`s
accomplishments that maybe the school knows nothing about. For
example, he is a wonderful musician, he acts in plays, he can
organize his friends to go on trips, he does community service.
If your child is a slow starter, you might want to ask the
teacher he will have next year to suggest some summer activities
which will enhance his learning or spur his interest. For
example, if they are going to study American Indians, you could
take him to the museum or incorporate a trip to a reservation as
part of your summer vacation. This does not mean that you spend
the summer doing school-type activities–workbooks, etc. If you
do, he will be so tired of school he will not want to go back
If your child is going to start school next September as a
kindergartner, he may be given a kindergarten screening test.
Ideally, the results of this test should be used to plan a
program appropriate to your child. If that is not the case, you
might want to ask how the results are to be used.
If you have a son who the school system says, as a result of
this test, is not developmentally ready to do the predetermined
curriculum, you might consider waiting a year thus giving him
time to develop so that he can be successful. These tests do
not measure intelligence and you have in no way failed as a
parent. Your child will get there eventually and successfully if
you and the rest of the world allow him to follow his own unique
rate of progress.
The most important thing to remember is that you are your
child’s advocate. And as his best friend, look forward to an
enjoyable summer with him.